ANZA program: sparking new beginnings for Alberta’s Black youth interested in business.

African Canadian Civic Engagement Council manages the ANZA program that supports Black youth in Alberta. This program serves as a unique intervention for increasing opportunities for Black youth while economically empowering them and teaching participants transferrable skills needed to become entrepreneurs.

The intake for the Spring 2024 Cohort is now closed.

African Canadian Civic Engagement Council Logo

What is ANZA?

ANZA is a Swahili term for a new beginning. The ANZA Black Entrepreneur Ecosystem Program is designed to help Black youths generate and develop business ideas, convert those ideas into business plans, and provides mentorship and help when seeking out and applying for loans that can be used to kick off their businesses with. This is providing them with ANZA (new beginnings).

The uniqueness of this project is found in its framework, which is focused on poverty reduction and teaching youths the transferrable skills needed to become entrepreneurs. This unique approach focuses on the following elements:

Diverting youth of African descent away from the criminal justice system by presenting an opportunity to strengthen their community protective factors.

Addressing Anti-Black racism by providing an alternative that utilizes a strategy for poverty reduction by teaching youths about starting their own business and being economically independent.

Connecting youths to their respective cultures and communities as a strategy for healing and reconciliation.

Who is the program for?

This program is for Black youth (of African descent) between the ages of 18 and 30 years with a business idea or at the beginning stages of their business in Edmonton and surrounding areas.

The program supports high-risk Black youth with attempts to interrupt cycles of crime, poverty, and being a victim or perpetrator of violence. With commitment from police, businesses, and community partners working together, the program seeks to change the way we work with Black youth in the City of Edmonton.

Program objectives:


Provide diversions that will allow Black youth to become productive, law-abiding, and connected citizens.


Provide incentives and support for personal and structural barriers to building successful businesses.


Provide quality education and a nurturing environment to explore their creativity and strengths.


Provide sufficient access to capital, knowledge, support, and mentorship to grow and sustain their businesses

How to apply for the program:

The ANZA program is managed by our partner, African Canadian Civic Engagement Council. The program intakes 15 youth every 6 months and provide them with training and access to essential support to be successful entrepreneurs. Youth must be available to commit to the requirements and timelines of the program: 6 months of training plus 3 months post-program support.

Interested youth can complete a short application form.
Applications are accepted through our partner, African Canadian Civic Engagement Council.

What participants are saying:

“I’m currently at the preparation stage for my business. I say this because, with the help of the program, I was able to narrow down what I wanted to do and eventually settle down on one idea, a liquor store. The lessons from Allan, Audrey, and Tristin have played a huge role in the shift from the contemplation to the preparation phase. They’ve given and continue to share knowledge and expertise of how the business world functions by providing a step-by-step process of creating a successful business. The life lessons from our interactions are a bonus and it always helps to get a reality check of one’s performance.”

ANZA Program Participant

“I have been able to empower other people due to the impact of ANZA on my journey; with that encouragement, I’m going to be providing jobs and opportunities for other youths who have been in situations that force them to mature at a young age or are going through personal challenges.”

ANZA Program Participant

“Now that I have been able to gain a significant amount of knowledge regarding entrepreneurship and building a solid business foundation, I have been able to initiate my planning phase. I am going through all the notes I have compiled and, using the tools and knowledge I have gained, I am building a plan that I feel is authentic, creative, and robust. I have done some preliminary surveys, however, I plan on putting together more structured interviews to gain more insight into the textiles market and the people that engage in it. I also plan on changing up my interview methods”

ANZA Program Participant

“Truthfully before this program, all I had were ideas that I could not act on to make viable business due to having no experience or knowledge on how to build a business, I did not know it was possible or viable for someone in my situation to actually start up a successful business.”

ANZA Program Participant